Of the many watches I saw, it must be noted that many number of them came from up front near the entrance of Hall 1 with the four big brands of the LVMH group, Hublot, Zenith, Tag Heuer and Bulgari, really bringing on their A game in terms of what they brought.

From Hublot, what impressed me most was the Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph, a visible evolution of the 5-year relationship between Hublot and Ferrari that has yielded many impressive watches. It all started with the MP-05 La Ferrari, and continued on to the Big Bang Ferrari watches, which itself saw a version 2 evolution last year when they were thoroughly redesigned. This year at Baselworld, we have what could be the most Ferrari like of all the Hublot Ferrari watches thus far.

Indeed the Techframe Ferrari is what you get when you allow someone not from the watch industry to design a watch. The team at Ferrari, led by Design Director, Flavio Manzoni, has certainly come up with one impressive watch from an aesthetic and functional standpoint, totally re-imagining the shape of the case to look like the chassis of a car, as well as the functionality of the chronograph, with its large paddle like pusher being something that a Ferrari driver would be familiar with.

Hublot
Hublot
Hublot

Stablemate Tag Heuer as well, came with the Modular 45 that when announced before the fair started, got everyone very excited. The concept of modularity might not be a new one, but in this particular form, in scope and ambition, it certainly impresses. With what other system can you change what you are wearing from a smart watch, to a normal three-hander, and then to a watch with a tourbillon?

Certainly, the Modular 45 system bridges the gap between the past and the future, and developments that will come forth from this very mature first step look to be very exciting. Even better, the Modular 45 with tourbillon module on the wrist, looks every bit as amazing as the standard Heuer 02T.

HYT also impressed with a re-imagined version of their iconic H1, the watch that launched their proprietary fluidic time telling system to the world. The H-0 (pronounced H-Zero) is in simple terms, a distillation of the fundamental elements of the H1, taking the lines of its form and perpetuating a mélange of smooth surfaces and circles. The effect of this reductive exercise is a modern and minimalist design that takes HYT into new aesthetic territory.

Ergonomically as well, with its lug-less design, this is the first HYT that I have seen, that allows almost anyone to wear it with ease. When the watch can find itself on the wrists of more people, universal admiration starts to become a possibility.

HYT
Tag Heuer

Moving on to my last two picks are watches more traditional in terms of their conception. First we have the Moritz Grossmann ATUM Date, a watch that for the first time ever brings the date complication to a brand known for their exemplary standards of finishing. To do this, the Moritz Grossmann did not resort to a standard date disc viewable via a dial aperture. Instead, there are two fingers that move at the edge of the dial, to bracket the correct date along a date track. The advantage of this system is clear, since it preserves the clean look of the ATUM that we have come to know, and by extension keep the essential character of the line, elegant and pure.

Lastly, we have the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor, a follow on effort to the Logical One, the watch that made Romain’s name among watches connoisseurs worldwide. The Insight Micro-Rotor dispenses with the off-centred hour and minute sub-dial seen in the Logical One, moving that to the central position this time, with seconds subdial and front mounted balance wheel on the same central axis.

The raison d’etre of this watch, the Micro-Rotor finds itself to the left of the watch face, presenting a somewhat large aperture around which it rotates. Combine these new features with the sublime finishing throughout that we’ve come to expect from Romain Gauthier, and a great size in a beautiful case, and what we have with the Insight Micro-Rotor is easily one of the best haute horologerie pieces shown at Basel this year.

Moritz Grossmann
Romain Gauthier